They say timing is everything. I’m not sure who “they” are, but they’re right. I was supposed to be knee-deep into retirement right now, instead, I’m gearing up for yet another run on the roller coaster ride known as a Major League Baseball season. I planned on retiring after last season. It seemed like the right time, the right decision for my family.
The 2015 season was a tough one. My kids were in the midst of what I fondly refer to as the “asshole stage”—I mean that in the most loving way possible—which made everything just a little more difficult than it already was…and by a little, I mean a lot ;). So after 2015, I decided 2016 would be my last season. I wanted to give myself, my family and our support system a finish line. I felt like we all needed it.
Among my numerous character flaws is my reluctance to ask for help. But when you have two kids, a husband who works and a job that revolves around nights and weekends, you really have no choice but to ask for help—and a lot of it. I’ve gotten better about it over time, but the struggle is real. So when my kids were in the midst of the anatomy stage I mentioned previously, the mommy guilt reached an all-time high.
For those unfamiliar with mommy guilt, I’m certain it’s not exclusive to moms who work outside the home, but I do know it’s more prevalent and talked about ad nauseam among working moms. It’s the constant worry that you’re missing something in your children’s lives that they’re sure to never forgive you for—the class party, the baseball game, the bedtime story—and the ensuing feeling of guilt that makes you want to vomit. Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
I figured if I hung up the microphone, I wouldn’t have to ask for near as much help and my mommy guilt would disappear. I was so sure about my decision I informed the Rangers when I signed my contract that 2016 would be it and even recommended a replacement. I told those close to me, and even convinced myself I was ready. After all, I was pushing 40 (emphasis on pushing), and half these dudes are young enough to be my nephews 😉
Then in March of last year, my daddy died. Rocked my world. To say the two of us were close would be like saying Adrian Beltre has a marginally good time playing baseball. The two weeks between his death and the start of baseball season were the most difficult of my life. By the time Opening Day rolled around, I couldn’t wait to get to the ballpark. I welcomed the structure and the atmosphere in that clubhouse. I needed that. I needed the distraction. I needed normal, and the controlled chaos of a Major League Baseball season is my normal.
The season played on, and I held firm to my retirement plans…until the last week of August. That’s when I got a call from my mother in law. She said she wanted to talk to me, soon and in person. She came over the next evening and made quite the sales pitch.
Her message went something like this: I don’t buy for one second that you’re ready to walk away from this job. You’re doing this because you think it’s what’s best for everyone around you, but what you don’t realize is that we want to help. We don’t view it as a chore. Your work situation gives us an added dimension to our relationships with the kids that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
The “we” my mother in law was referring to is the army of people who help care for our kiddos. For some, it takes a village. For us, it takes an army. The words she said that night affected me in a way I wasn’t prepared for, and for the first time in months, doubt crept into my mind that I might not be making the right decision. Two days later, Rougie walked it off against the Mariners, and that creeping doubt was flat out stalking me.
If you don’t remember the game, Rougie put his team in a bind by running into an out on the bases late in the game (his second of the night), drawing the ire of one Adrian Beltre in the dugout. I remember watching him make that walk to the dugout, tail tucked between his legs, obviously knowing his mistake long before AB gave him a love tap on the cheek and reminded him of the fine line between aggressive and reckless base running. Growing pains can be a bitch.
The Rangers trailed 7-6 headed in to the bottom of the 9th. Beltre led off with a single, setting up the perfect atonement opportunity for Odor. And he delivered with a shot to straightaway center field to give the Rangers a 8-7 walkoff win over the Mariners. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates in what had to have been a celebration equal parts joy and relief.
Still out of breath, Rougie gave—in my opinion—his best interview ever. He was relaxed. He was confident. He was honest about his mistake and effusive in his praise for Adrian Beltre and the lessons he has taught him. It was the Rougned Odor I see on a daily basis….and it was a far cry from the timid young man who arrived in Arlington a couple of years ago, so sure of his baseball talents but so unsure of how to communicate with the media and fans, in general.
As we walked up the tunnel that night (cue the sappy music here), I hugged him so big and told him how perfect that interview was and how proud I was of him.
His response? “Really, Emmy?”
Mine? “Really, Rougie.” And then I might have gotten something in my eye. Don’t judge.
Anyway, the point is this. That moment—sandwiched in between that back porch conversation with my mother in law and a Thai lunch with Jon Daniels—made me realize how much I love my job and that I wasn’t ready to hang it up just yet. The right time will come, I’m just not quite sure yet when that will be. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the ride and let my gratitude grow for those who love my family and keep my mommy guilt at a manageable level.
Let the shit show begin again!
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Random Thought: Why do people insist on telling you about their March Madness brackets? Is this what people without kids feel like when I talk to them about mine???
10-Minute Turkey Tacos
1 lb. ground turkey
1 packet taco seasoning
1 jar taco sauce
Uncle Ben’s 90-second Mexican rice
Brown turkey. Add seasoning and sauce to taste.
Warm tortillas in foil in the oven.
Top with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado.
Heat rice up in the microwave.